What is a visitation exchange?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A visitation exchange takes place every time a child goes from the physical custody of one parent to the other. In cases where both parents are able to set aside their personal differences for the sake of the child, there is usually no problem with the visitation exchange – one parent simply goes to the residence of the other to pick up the child.

Visitation exchanges become problematic when the personal differences between the parents are not settled. In the extreme, a domestic violence case makes the visitation exchanged difficult to handle, especially when restraining orders are in effect (such as an order that both parents are to stay at least 100 yards away from one another and may not go to the residence of the other). In these difficult cases, visitation exchanges can be conducted in a public place – a restaurant where one parent can sit in the back and then send the child to the front, in a local police station, hospital or library – places where there are a lot of people around who would notice if an argument between the parents erupted. In extreme cases, one parent would leave the child with a visitation supervision monitor and the other parent would arrive 15 minutes later, the visitation would proceed under the supervision of the third-party monitor, and then the visiting parent would leave 15 minutes before the other parent returns to pick-up the child. Creative visitation exchanges are sometimes necessary to allow visitation while keeping separation between the parents to reduce the possibility for violence between them.

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